BHCA urges City Council to amend Ordinance regarding short-term rentals downtown
Following a discussion by the BHCA Board of Directors, Chairman Mark Kiefer, wrote the following letter to City Councilor Michael F. Flaherty, who chairs the Committee on Government Operations. In the letter, Kiefer urged the Council to amend the proposed Ordinance regarding AirBnB and other short-term residential rentals with provisions specifically applicable to downtown neighborhoods that either prohibit or otherwise more significantly restrict the use of non-resident owned housing units for short-term rentals.
Dear Councilor Flaherty:
The Mayor’s Ordinance Allowing Short-Term Residential Rentals in the City of Boston is an important and necessary first step in addressing the rapid proliferation of these units in a manner that both harnesses their economic benefits and maintains Boston’s position as a world technology leader, while also mitigating potential negative impacts on our housing market and the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
As a historic downtown neighborhood we feel very acutely the challenges in both the availability and affordability of residential housing. The maintenance of economic diversity and housing affordability for our residents has been a core value of the Beacon Hill Civic Association throughout our 95-year history.
Beacon Hill also benefits tremendously from the high quality of life that comes from being a close-knit neighborhood, and we have therefore long advocated that our limited real estate be devoted as much as possible to providing long-term resident housing or other uses that facilitate a vibrant local community.
The displacement of long-term residential housing opportunities by non-resident owned short-term rentals threatens the vitality and sense of community in downtown neighborhoods, raises concerns about public safety, and can only serve to exacerbate our already significant housing affordability challenge.
For these reasons we believe that restrictions on non-resident owned units are an essential and indispensable provision of the Ordinance. However, we believe that as currently proposed, the cap on Investor Unit short term rental days would be insufficient to fully mitigate the aforementioned negative effects on availability and affordability of long-term residential housing units and the consequent impacts on residential quality of life in downtown neighborhoods.
Specifically, as one example, under a 90-day cap Investor Units could still to be leased to students during the school year and used for short term rentals during the summer. The City’s current shortage of both student housing and summer hotel capacity, combined with the likely much more lucrative economics of such a strategy compared to full-year leases, make this scenario a very likely possibility in downtown neighborhoods.
As such, we believe that under the currently proposed provisions of the Ordinance these nonresident-owned short term rental units would continue to proliferate in downtown neighborhoods, bringing with them the associated negative impacts on both housing affordability and quality of life.
We therefore urge the Council to amend the proposed Ordinance with provisions specifically applicable to downtown neighborhoods that either prohibit or otherwise more significantly restrict the use of non-resident owned housing units for short-term rentals in a manner sufficient to ensure the mitigation of these negative impacts.
Mark Kiefer Chair,
BHCA Board of Directors
City gets the word out about plastic bag ban
Ideas ranging from launching a website to explain the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags to mailing information about the new ordinance with property tax bills were discussed at a recent City Hall session organized by Councilors Matt O’Malley and Michelle Wu, according to a report in the Boston Globe. The ordinance, which was supported by the BHCA Green Committee, takes effect December 15. Its purpose is to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags or pay a five-cent fee for either a compostable plastic bag or a larger brown bag with handles.
Oscar Night Cocktail Party
Get ready to roll out the red carpet when the 75 on Courthouse Square and the Beacon Hill Civic Association co-host an Oscar Night Cocktail Party on Sunday, March 4 at the restaurant located at 60 Seaport Blvd. Party-goers will premiere Hollywood’s big night of awards in style from 7 p.m. to midnight and enjoy a true V.I.P. treatment with A-list drinks, hors d’oeuvres and the chance to enter prize drawings by playing a movie trivia game.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Beacon Hill Civic Association. Tickets are $55 per person. For more information and reservations, click on www.bhcivic.org or call 617-227-1922.
Wednesday, March 7: Cambridge Street Committee Meeting. 6 p.m., 74 Joy Street.
Wednesday, March 7: Zoning & Licensing Committee Meeting at 7 p.m. 74 Joy Street.
Upcoming Special Events
Friday, March 2: First Friday Coffee Hour. 8:30 a.m.- 9:30 a.m., 74 Joy Street.
Stop by to enjoy coffee with neighbors at 74 Joy Street – bring a friend.
Monday, March 5: Beacon Hill Meet & Greet. 6 p.m., 75 Chestnut.
Come meet your neighbors, old and new, and enjoy a drink or two.
Free appetizers / cash bar.
Visit the Beacon Hill Civic Association website bhcivic.org and/or call the office (617-227-1922) for more information on how to get involved.